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What is Yoga for You? Join the Debate

What is Yoga

What is yoga, really? Leave your definition as a comment underneath

The only objective definition is the lexical meaning of the word “yoga” from Sanskrit and means to unite, join, weld and is taken from the root “YUJ” – union.

However Yoga is such a broad concept that not once have the great masters come to an agreement when defining it.

In the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines yoga asChitta Vritti Nirodha” which means: “Yoga is the silencing of the modifications of the mind”.

“Yoga means union of the mind, body and spirit with the Divine and while this refers to a certain state of conciousness both individual and Universal, it is also a method to help one reach that goal”. The official website of International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres founded by Swami Vishnudevananda,

“Yoga is one of the six systems of Indian philosophy. The word “yoga” originates from the sanskrit root yuj which means Union. On the spiritual plane, it means union of the Individual Self with the Universal Self. Yoga is the union of the body, mind, emotions and intellect.” The official website of BKS Iyengar  founded by Yogacharya B.K.S.Iyengar,

“Yoga is an awareness, a type of knowing. Yoga will end in awareness. Yoga is arresting the fluctuations of the mind as said in the Yoga Sutras (of Patanjali): citta vritti nirodha. When the mind is without any movement, maybe for a quarter of an hour, or even quarter of a minute, you will realize that yoga is of the nature of infinite awareness, infinite knowing. There is no other object there.” —Sri T. Krishnamacharya at 100 years (1988) during an interview with A. G. Mohan

Start the Debate. Forum Post. What is yoga for you?

We would like to know what yoga represents for you, what it means in your life and how you explain it to someone who does not know what yoga is.

Leave your comments below and together we can create a definition of yoga as wide as this world, to accommodate for both our differences and similarities. 🙂

With Gratitude!

 

Featured Image: Alessandro Sigismondi

Patricia Villegas
Patricia Villegas
Co-Founder & Head Yoga Instructor. Vegetarian Yoga Lover and Psychologist specialized in Sivananda Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (Mysore) and Saraswati's student, the daughter of Pattabhi Jois. Through her professional website: seaofcalm.com, she mixes eastern yoga practices and western psychology around the world. - Yoga and Psychology is a long life learning, it is a life style and a commitment who one acquires with himself and the environment. I await you with arms wide open at Lucia Yoga!

28 Comments

  1. Yoga promotes awareness in all forms including self-awareness, which essentially brings us closer to our true nature, helping us to make more conscious choices about the way we live our life. 🙂

  2. Aliya Galim says:

    What is Yoga… hm….My mind wants to give out something very spiritual and beautiful.

    Today it is very popular to describe what yoga is. Maybe I better think of what is not yoga…

    My choice becomes my intention. My intention becomes my path. My path becomes gratitude.
    In such attitude everything has a chance to become yoga: nutrition, education, sleep, relations, physical exercise… Then life is yoga. And yoga is life.

  3. Yoga is an attitude towards life. An understanding of our bodies, minds and souls as a whole. A connection inwards and with the Universe. Mindfulness, love and compassion in whatever we do. Everything that we do can be yoga. Asanas are just the part of the practice in which we honor our vessels.

  4. Estela says:

    Yoga is a practice using the awareness of the breath and the awareness of the body in action to create harmony of body, mind and spirit.

  5. yogi anup says:

    Yoga means union, union of our ‘self’ with the cosmic self or cosmic power.To know my ‘self’, I should remember that I have a body ( and I am not the ‘body’), I have a mind (obviously I am not the mind). There is another aspect, the energy, without which my body cannot move, mind cannot work.
    Our consciousness around this body, mind and soul is our ‘self’. This ‘self’ is not isolated; it is part of the cosmic self. In true sense, we are part of this universe. Yoga assures or opens up process of this union.
    Hence, it is not only a kind of physical posture or exercise.
    It is not only a set of breath exercises, or an attitude (mudra),or a lock (bandha) in the physical system or breath flow or thought process.
    All these are important aspects of Yoga but they are not Yoga; rather various means to achieve yoga or union. Yoga is not be practised. Yogic Exercises are to be learned and practised to achieve this union or Yoga. This would lead to a feeling, a feeling of oneness and bliss.
    Yoga is a science and art for drawing out the best in our ’self’ so that we may face our life struggle successfully and make our ‘life’ fulfilled (with health, inner strength, peace and prosperity).
    The optimum or the harmonized state of condition of body, mind, energy is called health. And the reverse or the imbalance of the above aspects of being is manifested as disease.
    Your body is not an isolated matter, rather deeply connected with mind and energy flow.
    To achieve restoration of health (to come out of a particular disease), we should put our all-round effort towards a particular goal applying all aspects of our being (i.e. body, mind, energy).
    Along with physical asana or posture, instructions on ’breath’ and ‘awareness’ are given to achieve the benefits from the asanas.
    AWARENESS
    Advice on ‘awareness’ while practising a particular asana is given. This has powerful effect on the gross level as well as on the subtle level.
    To select ‘awareness’ according to particular need.
    As for example:
    AWARENESS:-
    On the abdomen
    On the chest, neck and head
    On the breath
    On the navel center
    You should try to be aware of all above, step by step. If you cannot, please select:-
    Abdomen > when you feel abdomen is your weak area.
    Breath > when you feel awareness on breath flow is required to give a soothing effect on your mind.
    Navel center >when you feel physically weak always and require extra energy. .. and so on.
    Hence balance the physical postures (asanas) with breath flow and awareness as advised.

  6. Pia says:

    Yoga is instinct. When you are pulled away by circumstances from your true self and then you begin practicing yoga, it’s like you’ve come back home for the first time since you left. This home becomes something you want to visit more frequently. The more you spend time in this home, the more you understand who you are and why you are here.

  7. Lacey Daunt says:

    Yoga is whatever you need it to be. For me, yoga is a way to connect my body and mind through breath. It is a way to completely let go. For others, yoga may be something completely different. I think that is the point and I think that is why so many people are drawn to this beautiful practice. It brings people closer to what they are craving/lacking in their lives. Be it the mind/body connection, strength, awareness, etc..

    • I agreed completly Lacey!
      Yoga has this capacity to be what ever people need!
      If you need to relax, yoga will be your tool to relax, if you want to get fit or flexible, yoga can be the tool for that. If you are looking for some kind of spiritual answer, yoga can be your method. Even if you are looking for enlightenment to help others, yoga can be a path between others to achieve it!
      That’s why it can be many definitions as people we are in this world.
      Many kisses and thanks for your comment.

  8. Karine says:

    Yoga is LiFE… Yoga is union with life inside you… And around you… Yoga is when you are fully here in your body, in your mind, in your heart… And you learn to observe, you expand awareness, and you learn to use your capacities, beyond your limits… Then you create and act with your environment… Yoga is moving, yoga is breathing, yoga is chanting, yoga is meditation… Yoga is both the way to stillness and action, yoga is union with life…

  9. Eknath says:

    In the words of Shri Yogi Hari, “Yoga is the awareness of your Divinity”.
    And in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali it states that “2.Yoga is the control of the though-waves in the mind.3.Then man abides in his real nature.4.At other times, when he is not in the state of yoga, man remains identified with the thought-waves in the mind.”
    All practices, whether they be physical, mental or spiritual, which bring us towards this state of yoga, can be called yoga also.

  10. Vangelis says:

    Yoga is the connection of mind,body and spirit.if someone is connected with him/herself can be connected with others,nature and the Universe!
    Love and Peace!!!!
    Vangelis

  11. Boris says:

    Yoga is a practice designed for self-realization or liberation.
    With the right practice, we (gradually and/or spontaneousely) become more aware of who and what we are.
    But even more important in the beginning we come to understand, what we are not.
    By allowing ourselves to see it clearly, we let go of so much stuff that does not serve us.
    Things that blocks our life force, health, capacity of living and loving truly and fully.
    It’s mainly ideas and concepts, because they constitute the reality we are building, consciously or not.
    Yoga as practice is that attempt and act of daily connecting to that inner essence, our true self, which is free from concepts.
    By doing so, we are automatically “replacing old patterns, with new and more appropriate patterns”, as Krishnamacharya has put it.
    We become more intuitive, start taking wiser life choices, and feel overall more fulfilled.
    Yoga as the state of union with the divine, is a state where all notions about yourself have come to an end and we fall into the grace of pure existence in awareness. In that state we realized, beyond doubt, our oneness with the universe and there is are no notion or intentions of the ego left (I call them “I-deas” 😉 ).
    The experience of polarities, of inside / outside, matter / mind, me / the world, have been transcended and understood as illusionary.
    This is one way I like to understand the “chitta vritti nirodaha” in Patanjali’s yoga sutras.
    But first, when we start searching for yoga, there must be some frustration, a feeling of incompleteness, or at least a doubt that my view on the world is sometimes problematic. Otherwise there would be no need for practice and cognitive change at all.
    So once we realize that, the good news is, that since time immemorial there have been practices to carry us closer to that understanding of the self.
    They are called as yoga, or “union”. It is a very very beauty full thing, because they always work in the present moment, not for a promise in the future. This is another realization about yoga, that there is nothing but now. “atha yoga anushasanam”.
    Yoga is always happening in the NOW (No Other Way). So we have good reason to relax 😉 and with good attitude and intention allow life to perfectly unfold…
    Love & Light!

    • Thanks Boris for your comment!
      So many of us knew that Yoga is the union with the divine, but what it means this exactly?
      I keep your words:
      “Yoga as the state of union with the divine, is a state where all notions about yourself have come to an end and we fall into the grace of pure existence in awareness. In that state we realized, beyond doubt, our oneness with the universe and there is are no notion or intentions of the ego left”
      No more individual problems and conexion with the whole nature or divine… Love this thought!!
      Now the job is really feel this conexion no with the mind and reason, with something bigger!
      Many kisses Boris, and many thanks!!

  12. Krishna Raja says:

    Yoga is a Mind training program involving Physical body, Breathing body/Energy body, Proper knowledge/Knowledge body and Bliss body (use these 4 as tools to train and Master the Mind). (ie) joining all these 5 bodies/aspects (by involving all 5 when practicing Mindful Holistic Yoga) . Pancha Kosa concept explained in Upanishad.

    Even one body/Aspect cannot be ignored as all 5 aspects are interrelated interdependent one unit and along with Soul which is our Total Human system.

    All 5 have roles to play in maintaining balance in Total human system. -Homeostasis – state of positive health. So Mindfulness Holistic Yoga is also “Balanced Exercise” for the Total Human system. It is like Balanced Diet. Practicing Yoga only at Physical level as done in most of the modern yoga is like eating only Protein and totally ignoring Carbohydrate, Fat, Vitamins and Minerals. It will only create IMBALANCE and leads to injuries and diseases.

  13. Maike says:

    To me – and this is my personal experience and truth – Yoga and its regular practice promotes a major trust in life. Change is the only constant in life and Yoga is the calm and soothing tool to be okay with that. Every day has wonders for us in store – some we enjoy and some we have to learn to love, but with a stable practice we can invite new things into our life more easily and find contentment within us. Yoga helps me to create what I want to see in the world.

    Practice, and all will come.

  14. We are taught that Yoga is union. I have been practicing Yoga for over 15 years and this concept has only recently clicked inside of me. And indeed, Yoga IS union. For me, yoga is the union of yourself (your inner being) and the universe (the greater force outside of you). It is union with other people, living things, nature and union with the present moment.

    Once I understood and accepted this concept, things started making more sense, and my yoga practice changed. For example, it ”slowed” down, I was no longer searching for powerful, fast, sweaty classes, but just sitting silently was enough. It is this union with the universe, that shows me there is something greater than me and that I am not in control. This great force, throws all sorts of things at me, both good and bad, some asked for and some not! And is it this union and this yoga, that gives me the strength, wisdom and knowledge to handle and breathe through every situation that I am faced with. Yoga is union. A very simple and elegant concept, just like all the best things in life.

  15. Astrid Jirka says:

    Yoga for me is a physical practice that helps to keep my body strong, flexible, healthy and full of life nourishing breath. It is also a means of calming my mind and emotions and helping me to relax amidst all the endlessly changing circumstances and activities in my life. And it is a spiritual practice that provides me with guidance – deeply rooted in spiritual texts and cultural metaphors, as well as the embodied experience of practice – which leads me to a meditative state of mind and thus the ability to deeply experience the life force and connection that flows through the universe. It is also a beautifully creative and open hearted practice that I believe can encompass many faiths and traditions and is, therefore, a way for me to connect with people all around the world. In the end, it is the pathway to Unity within and without, and I take guidance from this path to lead my life with as much peace and joy as possible. Namaste 🙂

  16. Yoga greatly helps my body and it opened me up to changing my life off the mat. I’m not sure how this all happened but this post I wrote on my gifts may help. http://donaanderson.blogspot.ca/2016/04/10-gifts-from-yoga.html

  17. caroline says:

    Yoga is a practice of self-discovery. It includes other benefits of health and well-being, but first and foremost it is self-discovery.

  18. Nita says:

    Yoga is everything.
    What I do in The mat is a tiny par of the whole. Is a at of living. It’s loving everything and everyone. It’s feeling that you are the universe and the universe is inside you.

    Yoga is the closest I experienced to freedom.

  19. Neil Cheney says:

    Yoga is to make whole as in uniting since the mind wants to distract us from who we really are. By looking inwards, letting go of attachment, we find wholeness in the stillness of the Self at the heart centre.

  20. Dona Berges says:

    I am grateful to have a little more knowledge in the Yoga world.

    Today Yoga is becoming a massive and trendy movement and also business. Some people use it to get fit, be happy and have a moment of peace and relaxation and I consider it is one of the good things in the yoga world of course.

    My version is a little more classical and spiritual. Is an ancient philosophy and practice. With the daily practice of Yoga you achieve a balanced emotional stability, there is a transformation in the way of seeing life and helps you to know yourself to explore your inner and understand ourselves much better.
    Besides that it helps to keep a better shape in your body you are more in a line with your body and life and of course you get more flexibility and therefore more flexibility in life to survive in the best way possible.
    Yoga help us to find our propuse and more positive life and we can access the knowledge of it to be better and have constant moments of inner peace.
    Through meditation and Pranayama (conscious breathing meditation) clarity of mind is achieved and cleanses us from our impurities and it makes us understand our problems and concerns in another way to grow and learn from them, special in this chaotic world we are living in and the extern problems from work families and personal problems. This is given to us by a constant effort of ourselves to achieve our goals.
    Yoga is the path to enlightenment through daily practice, through work and exploration experience of ourselves.
    No-one more than ourselves will come to know better what is going on inside of us.

    Yoga teacher and Model as a profession.

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